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Loading the carcasses of the two Red Skinned Boars onto the back of the wagon, Adam couldn’t help but feel satisfied in his heart. Not only had he found a strong qi beast, relative to Tom’s strength, to hunt, meaning that today’s hunt wouldn’t pale in comparison to the one Tom took with Rowan, but, watching Tom’s fight just then, he was able to see just how far his cousin had come in this short time. He was truly impressed by the progress Tom had been making as a cultivator in the recent months and was sincerely happy for him.

Thinking about this, Tom, Adam and company all mounted their horses and spurred them on. As Adam had said, it was still relatively early and they had plenty of time to continue on with the hunt before it got dark. Thus, they proceeded forward, further away from the forest road and deeper into the forest.

“So, what was the experience like? Taking down the boar I mean. After all, compared to you, it’s quite a bit stronger” Adam asked as his horse walked forward, curious to know how Tom was feeling.

“Nothing special” Tom replied blandly, seemingly uninterested over what had just occurred.

“It was pretty similar to the fights I had on the last hunt” he continued, causing Adam to feel a bit downhearted and internally sigh.

[Hah, it’s as I suspected. After his last hunt with Rowan, where he fought the likes of a Red Eyed Wolf pack, saw a Giant Velvet Worm in action and personally took down a mature Blue Devil Beetle, anything I can show him at the moment won’t raise his excitement.

I can’t blame Rowan though. It’s not her fault his excitement has died down a bit. Even if she didn’t run off to join him, he still would have had his own experiences in the forest, though she still shouldn’t have hijacked his trip and taken him somewhere as dangerous as Insect Gorge. It’s no wonder a boar, even if it is equivalent to a late stage body strengthening warrior, wouldn’t pique his interest after he had seen the weird and intriguing creatures of Insect Gorge. A boar just seems kind of ordinary in comparison to them.

Sigh, if the Patriarch hadn’t assigned me a job at the time, I would have gone with Tom when he first left Hill City and could have been there from the beginning, could’ve been present on his first hunt.

Oh well, what’s past is past. There’s nothing I can do about it. Such are the circumstances of life.

Ha, I guess in the end, I should be thanking Rowan. If she hadn’t run off, father never would have sent me to get her and I would still be stuck doing patrol runs around Hill City. Still though, a pity I couldn’t be here for Tom’s first hunt and be the one that first showed him the strange wonders of the Tainted Forest. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the opportunity to show him something better]

“I guess it’ll all seem similar until you reach the realm of qi expansion. When you reach that, you’ll be able to do things you couldn’t even imagine doing as a body strengthening cultivator and you’ll also be able to fight against far more unique and interesting beasts than the ones we’ve seen today” said Adam.

“Oh that reminds me” said Adam abruptly; face palming himself at nearly having forgotten.

“What did you think of the martial skill I employed, the clan’s Crimson Fury Fists?” he asked, curious since it was one of the primary techniques of the clan and Tom would undoubtedly learn it when he made it into the realm of qi expansion.

“The technique seemed simple” answered Tom.

He had seen a whole myriad of different kinds of powers and ways to use cultivated energy in his life, not to mention what he himself was capable of as a God. In contrast, there wasn’t really anything that Adam could show him that would shout out sophistication.

“Mmn, I can see why on the surface it does look that way. After all, the concept behind the 2nd stage of the Crimson Fury Fists is basically just to concentrate the qi used during the 1st stage onto the front of the fist, greatly increasing the force of the blow. However, beneath the surface, there’s a little more to it than that and even if the concept seems simple, it’s a little harder to actually put it into practice”

“Still, the Crimson Fury Fists aren’t considered that difficult to learn for a technique of its level of power, which is a good thing for us. Though I should say, the 3rd stage is meant to be significantly more difficult to learn and master than the previous two. I’m actually still struggling to pull it off myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to increase my cultivation and store of qi quickly, so I can practice it properly. After all, it requires even more qi than the 2nd stage of Crimson Fury Fists. I could barely practice that while in the lower levels of qi expansion because I didn’t have enough qi so I’ll be annoyed if I now can’t practice the 3rd stage properly either because of the same reason”

“Hmm, I see” replied Tom, mulling over what Adam had told him since he knew he would likely end up learning the same martial skill as well.

[Although the concept behind the 2nd stage of the skill he described is simple, it’s also effective. Many techniques do the same sort of thing to increase their power. I myself have applied this concept when fighting and all the way through my original cultivation at that. The principle is sound.

What’s more, his technique didn’t look very fanciful. This is good. It means it doesn’t needlessly waste qi trying to be artsy. The only thing that needs to be considered is the form of the qi and how well it is manipulated]

Thinking up to this point, Tom suddenly frowned when a new thought popped into his head.

[Hmm?]

“Adam, I thought this technique was meant to be more powerful than what you just displayed” Tom said to Adam.

“Ahh, that’s because I haven’t attained a high or peak degree of mastery in it yet. I could have made up the numbers by pouring more qi into it but that would have taken longer to charge up and I didn’t want to be wasteful either. Even if my qi store has increased fairly significantly since I advanced from the 3rd level of qi expansion to the 4th, this is still a technique that uses up a fair amount of qi and I didn’t want to run myself dry”

“That’s understandable” responded Tom after hearing Adam’s explanation.

[Good, that wasn’t the most the technique is capable of. Even if he destroyed the top half of the boar’s head and caused it to flip over, that didn’t mean that his display was that impressive. After all, the Red Skinned Boars have fairly weak defence.

Hah, it really is quite pitiable that I wasn’t able to cut its leg off. Such a weak beast that can’t even harden its bones properly and I can’t cut through them. Ridiculous.

If it was able to use qi in even just the most basic way to defend itself, I likely wouldn’t have been able to kill it by myself and the attack Adam sent out wouldn’t have caused nearly as much damage as it did, though it still would have killed it]

“Actually, what you saw was still quite a bit more powerful than what I was capable of when I was still at the 3rd level of qi expansion. At that time, I would purposefully hold back how much qi I used in it; otherwise, I would use all my qi in just one punch. Also, you have to remember, this is just the 2nd stage of the Crimson Fury Fists martial skill. The 4th stage is the most powerful and the reason that it is classified as a high class martial skill. If I was using that, the boar would’ve ended up in bits and pieces” said Adam.

“Yes, there’s the 3rd and 4th stages as well” said Tom, thinking over his memories of other clan members using it and also of its descriptions in clan manuals.

[I really didn’t land myself in a bad place, did I] thought Tom, while reflecting on the strength of the Cardinal clan.

“It would be good to practice that. I’m given to understand that mastering it helps for when you try to break through into the realm of qi condensation” said Tom to no one in particular, though Adam thought he was still talking to him.

“Yeah, I hope so. Mastering the condensation of qi during the technique is meant to be greatly helpful for when you try to break into the realm of qi condensation. Plus, it’s the most powerful technique of our clan. Though I suppose many would disagree with me on that point since most of the people in the clan prefer our sword style over our fist art” said Adam.

“I’m given to believe that the clan’s qi techniques were all personally developed by clan members over many different generations before they became what they are today. Perhaps you’ll be able to further refine the Crimson Fury Fists yourself into the undisputable most powerful technique of the clan” said Tom.

“Yeah, that’d be good” said Adam as he lost himself in thought on the matter, bringing their conversation to a close.

With these last words, a quiet formed over their group, with only the occasional chatter from the guards being heard as they continued to move forward. They tried to pick up some speed, however, their pace remained rather slow. This was because although they had been moving forward quite easily until now, there were several areas with thick underbrush and places where the trees were quite close together, resulting in them having to slow down to manoeuvre the wagon through the trees or find a different route to continue forward.

Nevertheless, despite their slow pace, they naturally started to encounter more qi beasts as they continued moving through the forest. Some of the first ones they saw were fairly weak and tame and would stay away from people, fleeing when Tom and company drew near, however, the forest also contained many aggressive and territorial qi beasts, as well as ones which just wouldn’t care about the proximity of humans, so, it wasn’t long before they encountered a qi beast that didn’t and wouldn’t run from them, one which caused Tom and several others to be surprised.

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